Metamedia Minor | The Messy Divorce of Performer and Person

I miss the old Kanye, the doesn’t-cause-a-brouhaha-every-time-he-logs-onto-Twitter Kanye.

The shoot-from-the-hip-hop god may eventually release his seventh album, The Life of Pablo, to the unentitled (college kids without Tidal). Or he might not. Who knows? Not ‘Ye, probably.

Hell, would we really even be surprised at this point if Kanye confirmed he has taken Martin Shkreli’s offer and sold the album exclusively to the Pharma Bro himself for $10-15 million? No, no we wouldn’t — because Kanye is the human Rorschach test in flesh (side note: props to “DAQUAN” for allegedly stealing Shkreli’s money off Bitcoin. You are our hero.)

Undeniably, Kanye, the performer, is one of the most acclaimed artists of this millennium. Not only does he have his clothing line. Not only has he won 21 Grammys (and claims he’ll win 79 more). Not only has his music has been downloaded (legally) over 100 million times.

Kanye West has a kid from Barnesville, Minnesota, who doesn’t care about celebrities or rap caring about celebrities and rap.

Alas, Kanye, the person, is an ass. But should this matter?

Divorcing performer from person is an old enigma, a riddle with no easy answer.

Ezra Pound, my Modern Poetry class has discovered, writes beautiful verse and also was a Nazi sympathizer.

Justin Bieber released a solid album last year and also had a DUI arrest in 2014 that prompted a petition to deport the singer back to Canada.

And America’s favorite forehead Peyton Manning just rode off into the sunset, winning Super Bowl 50 before his inevitable retirement. It’s been a near-perfect ride for the Papa John and DirecTV spokesman, except for recent allegations of HGH use and the revisiting of a sexual assault case.

And of course there’s Bill Cosby, “America’s Dad” from the ‘80s who will stand before a judge on allegations of date raping a woman.

Kanye, the person, eloquently voiced his opinion on that particular matter.

“BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!” ‘Ye tweeted Feb. 9. More than 50 women have alleged Cosby sexually assaulted them.

Some became upset; more overlooked this outburst of caps lock and 10 exclamation points and continued to preoccupy their minds with TLOP. As Michael Che quipped Saturday on SNL’s Weekend Update: “Damn, Kanye’s new album must be dope. And it is. When you’re that dope, you can say whatever you want.”

But should the dope be able to act without repercussion? At what point can you not enjoy the performer’s actions because of the person’s choices?

And what happens when both performer and person mess up? Our case study tries to reconcile this divorce via Twitter:

“First thing is I’m an artist and as an artist I will express how I feel with no censorship,” ‘Ye tweeted Friday after he received criticism for his song “Famous.”

In case you missed this specific melee, West raps about his infamous interruption of Taylor Swift, implying she owes him for the publicity he garnered for her.

“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b—h famous,” he raps. Swift wasn’t pleased with the namedrop and misogynistic message. West wasn’t pleased with the public criticism.

“Stop trying to demonize real artist     Stop trying to compromise art,” he continued, adding extra spaces for effect.

The problem with performers is that all of them are erroneous people. Of all people, Kanye knows this, maybe.

“I’m a human being,” he tweeted, “I’m an artist, bro…” Until we can effectively sever person from performer, those who are aware will continue to grapple with this cognitive dissonance. Some will ignore Kanye’s controversies; some will never listen to him the same again. In the end though, do artists care about public perception?

“I don’t have to be cool…” West tweeted, “Shut the f—k up and enjoy the greatness.”

In “Metamedia Minor,” Benjamin Norman, a media junkie and journalism minor, takes a closer look at communication culture, here and elsewhere.

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